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Most effective way to connect these destinations? Budapest > Rothenberg

Do you like puzzles? Ok hear me out. :) Sat Nov 23 (landing in Budapest) through Mon Dec 9 (flying out of Munich), flights are booked, cast in stone. 16 nights on the ground. We are very comfortable driving in and around Germany, probably would feel the same about Austria and Italy, but would like to see if we can do this one mainly by train.

Budapest to start, 4 (or 5) nts, would like to leave on a night train across Austria. (Night train, ok, I hate the term bucket list, especially the older I get! But a night train is "bucket list", or let's say "high priority experience" for me.)

Other top priorities, Salzburg, 3-4 nights. Could do 4 if it's reasonable to stay there our last night, a Sunday, and be in Munich for a flight at 3:55 pm the next day.

Two nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I know it's out of the way but it was super magical in 2022 and we've booked the same hotel room. Booking is right in the middle of our trip, Monday Dec 2- Tuesday Dec 3 but we might be able to move it. But I really don't want to be in RodT on a Saturday night, too crowded for that charming small town.

Here's the wild card, Bolzano Italy. We're thinking 3 nights. Again, high priority experience. Could be talked into somewhere else in Northern Italy, but would have to remain within the 3 night window and Bolzano seemed our best bet for a small town with character.

2 experienced travellers, decent health, in our (ahem) 60's. (I just got there and am a little sensitive about it...)

Depending on how you slice that, it's 13 days. We do want at least one night in Munich to visit the Medieval Market again, but could fill a couple nights in Munich, either one night at a time as we head somewhere else, or two nights together.

The night train that I can find is really best if you go Budapest-Munich, in that you'll get most of the night on the train. I looked at taking it as far as Salzburg, but for whatever mysterious train-related reasons, you'd be dumped out in Salzburg before 5 am while the same 8:40 pm departure time from Budapest to Munich is a reasonable nearly-8 am. (7-something if I recall correctly.)

We have done a couple of train trips in France, but are train newbies. Any suggestions on how we can stitch this together? The schedules boggle me. Getting to Rothenburg for instance looks like a trial (4 connections from Munich for something that takes 2.5 hrs in a car).

Thoughts? Tips? As I said, we're not terribly experienced train travellers, and it gives me hives that train schedules aren't released for a couple months yet.

Posted by
3260 posts

Have you tried Rome2Rio get ideas for how to connect the dots?

This is a very complicated itinerary. I'd be inclined to chose destinations that aren't so far apart. You're going to spend a lot of time traveling rather than quality time in a few locations.

Posted by
255 posts

Haven't tried Rome2Rio, no, so far liking the man in seat 61 but I am open to ALL learning on this! I'm hoping that reasonable length of stay (4 days in Salzburg and Budapest) will help. We generally like a road trip, but part of the reason for looking at trains this time is that it gives us down time in a way that driving doesn't.

Posted by
119 posts

See also The Man in Seat 61, seat61.com, for great advice on train travel throughout Europe, including photos and videos. Be warned, it's a rabbit hole.

Posted by
8071 posts

Avoid using Rio2Rome, it is inaccurate.

Bolzano is kind of out of the way (you might want to subtract it) as well as Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You might just rent the car when in Germany

But here is a rough itinerary that you can shift the amount of days around :
Budapest November 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
On the 27th take the night train with a sleeper car from Budapest leaving at 20:40 to Innsbruck arriving at 4:23.
Then take a direct train from Innsbruck to Bolzano at 5:40 arriving in Bolzano at 7:29.
Bolzano November 28, 29, 30,
Take a direct Train Bolzano to Salzburg
Salzburg December 1, 2, 3,
Take the train to Rothenburg ob de Tauiber
Rothenburg ob de Tauiber December 4, 5, 6
Take the train to Munich
Munich

Use this site for booking tickets from Budapest to Bolzano to Salzburg.
https://www.oebb.at/en/

You can use this one for the German rail system:
https://int.bahn.de/en

Posted by
20481 posts

There is a night train departing Budapest at 8:40 pm to Augsburg (actual train destination is Stuttgart), arriving at 6:45 am, then connecting regional trains to Treuchtlingen, Steinach, then Rothenburg, arriving at 9:51 am.

Rothernburg to Salzburg can be done with a Bayern Ticket. Salzburg to Bolzano is 4 to 4 1/2 hours with either 1 or 2 connections.. Bolzano to Munich is also 4 to 4 1/2 hours direct or with a single connection.

Posted by
8245 posts

It's a long way on the ground--and very slow.

Take a flight to Budapest from the Nuremburg Airport. The public transit is complicated from Rothenburg and over 2 hrs., so I would suggest renting a car and turning it in at the Nuremburg Airport--less than 50 miles.

Posted by
6812 posts

The Budapest > Munich night train has you for many hours, but that won't guarantee you a good night's sleep. Do consider David's suggestion for flying into NUE. I see DIRECT flights like the one I took a few years ago on this route, not every day, but there's one on Fr. Nov. 29 (11:35 am > 13:05) So getting to Rothenburg that afternoon should not be a problem. By train: 1.5 hours from NUE airport:

14:12 Lv NUE Airport subway (U-Bahn) station
14:25 Ar Nuremberg Hbf train station
14:38 Lv Nuremberg Hbf by train for > Rothenburg (Ar 15:51.) Change trains in Ansbach and Steinach on the way.

A Day pass for two covers the subway and the € trains for less than €24:
https://www.vgn.de/en/tickets/all-day-ticket-plus/

Then I'd follow Sam's routing after Nuremberg.

Posted by
255 posts

Thank you all. It's coming together. We had a couple of favoured accommodations come through with restricted dates, so our week of Dec 1 took over the planning... We'll be starting in Budapest Nov 23 and going Budapest-Bolzano (via Innsbruck, thanks!) then up to Rothenberg for our favourite hotel. Bolzano is indeed a bit of a bear to get to, but we're excited about it. Thanks for the reassurance on the potential fiddly routings around Bolzano and Rothenberg. From Rothenberg we have Salzburg, staying in a former seminary (limited availability so we grabbed it) then it'll be time for a couple days in Munich before coming home. We may take a side trip from Munich if we're not sick of trains by then--Munich isn't new to us but we can't resist another chance to visit the Medieval market at Wittlesbacherplatz.